How to conquer the tech talent challenge 

The UK’s tech sector is known for its innovation and growth. However, this sector is facing a significant challenge: a shortage of skilled and talented professionals. In this article, People Director Jules Gordon explores what businesses can do to meet the challenges of the talent shortage, strengthen their employee value proposition and ensure a reliable pipeline of the brightest talent in the sector.

In a recent report from Beauhurst and Barclays Eagle Labs, it states that: ‘The UK tech sector faces a persistent challenge in bridging the gap, particularly as the pace of technological change accelerates’.  In this blog, I focus on how the talent gap is more than just a Human Resources issue; it’s a complex problem influenced by values, culture and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles.

In addition, the ability to work flexibly impacts job desirability and in a digital world, tech companies are having to rethink how and where work is done in order to access a global talent pool.  I will also explore what you can do as an employer to build an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that enhances your recruitment strategy and helps retain top tech talent in today’s market.

How values impact culture and talent attraction

In the competitive tech landscape, the company values and culture are key factors in attracting and retaining top talent. In this digital age, tech professionals are not just looking for “a job” and they won’t just settle for anything; they’re looking for an employer whose values resonate with their own personal values and whether those values are aligned to ESG initiatives.  If they don’t, the likelihood is they won’t join and if they do, they won’t stick around for long.

For example, a culture of continuous learning and development, indicates that the company invests in its people and their development, appealing to those looking to advance their careers. Similarly, a culture that celebrates inclusion and diversity attracts a wider range of candidates, enabling innovation through varied perspectives.

Why ESG is an important consideration for talent attraction and retention?

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles have quickly become essential in the eyes of the tech workforce. ESG represents a company’s commitment to sustainable practices, social responsibility, and ethical governance. For tech professionals, particularly millennials and Gen Z, a company’s ESG commitments are often a determining factor when it comes to accepting roles.  In addition, there is a shift when it comes to company perks.  Employees are looking for sustainable reward and recognition such as planting trees and water bottles made from recycled materials.

Tech companies that lead in ESG initiatives contribute positively to the world, but also become highly desirable employers.

Flexibility and talent attraction

In the tech sector, the demand for flexibility is high.  Flexible working arrangements, including remote work, flexible hours, and part-time working are key to attract and retain top talent.  According to Forbes, 76% of millennials expect flexibility at their work.  As an employer, saying you’re flexible isn’t enough – potential employees join for the flexibility and lack of flexibility feeds attrition.

Employers should be mindful that in this digital age feedback can often be found online for potential new hires to view and this can positively or negatively impact the employer’s ability to attract talent.   Employers who offer flexibility have the advantage of a broader talent pool.  In addition, from a values perspective, they demonstrate trust in the smart tech talent they’re hiring, creating employee satisfaction.

The global talent pool

In the war for tech talent, to support ambitious innovation and growth targets, it’s essential to extend the search beyond the UK.  As outlined in the Beauhurst report, 19.8% of respondents highlight the management of visas and the attraction of talent as a key opportunity.

To do this well, it is advisable to adopt inclusive hiring practices and a culture that embraces diversity.  To ensure the new hire is set up for success, language, and relocation support are recommended as well as a robust onboarding programme, collaboration tools and buddy in the workplace for the new hire.  This approach enables tech companies to enrich their workforce and broaden the talent pool.

Ambitious businesses looking at international expansion will also need to consider how their EVP translates overseas and ensure they are set up to attract, develop and retain talent locally as well as domestically, as well as having the right infrastructure in place to enable consistent values and culture, effective communication and remote collaboration.

Does your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) support talent retention?

In today’s unpredictable market, a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is crucial to retain tech talent. An EVP outlines what employees can expect in return for their skills, capabilities, and experiences.  A compelling EVP for tech talent includes competitive salaries, benefits, career development opportunities, work-life balance, and a positive company culture, feeding into a compelling employer brand.

To ensure the EVP is aligned to employee’s needs, employers should seek and take on board employee feedback and adapt accordingly.  For example, we touched on tree planting as a sustainable perk which can be used to recognise and reward achievement, whereas an electric car scheme is an increasingly popular sustainably focused employee benefit.  In this digital age, employees talk about pay and benefits so transparency is important.  Ensuring there is no gender pay gap and all employees are paid fairly for their roles is critical to attracting and retaining talent.

In addition, a key component of the EVP for tech talent is a healthy work life balance.  Gone are the days where employers should be rewarding high performers with more work, ultimately burning them out.  High level performance requires recovery and there is an expectation tech employers will respect boundaries when it comes to a work life balance.

There is much to consider when it comes to a compelling EVP, but to truly become an employer of choice and attract tech talent, the EVP should be compelling, clearly communicated, honoured and subject to continuous improvement based on employee feedback.

Taking on the tech talent challenge in your business

The challenge facing UK employers when it comes to tech talent encompasses values, culture, ESG commitments, flexibility and the ability to hire global talent.  Creating an Employee Value Proposition focussed on these principles, enables tech employers to attract and retain the tech talent needed for innovation and growth.  In this unpredictable market, tech companies that invest in their people will be the employers of choice.

Headshot portrait photo of People Director Jules Gordon against blurred foliage background
Jules Gordon, People Director

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